Jan’s sporting gesture seals long friendship

An unlikely international friendship which spans decades has led to German Jan Hagener sponsoring Garstang Football Club.

Garstang’s recent match against Burnley was sponsored by Jan after friend Geoff Hargreaves introduced him to the club.

At 16 years old Jan Haegner came over to England to escape the conflict of the Second World War and ended up meeting Geoff when both men worked at the Co-Op.

Geoff, 90, who lives in Garstang said: “After all the bombings in Germany Jan just wanted to get away and ended up with a job in the co-op and when I went into the export department I met him and really liked him.

“We started chatting and just became friends.

“I looked after him for about a year and my wife and myself used to take him out with our children, he became a very special part of the family, we all loved him, and we have kept in touch ever since.”

After Geoff’s wife sadly passed away last year, Jan came over to England to give Geoff some respite, which is when Geoff introduced him to Garstang Football Club and surprised him by sponsoring the match in his name.

Geoff, who aims to sponsor another three matches this year said: “I started watching Garstang FC and they were very kind to me.

“But at my 90th birthday Jan came to England just for the night and left me an envelope which when I got home I opened I saw that he had left money to sponsor another match which we did and also sponsored it in memory of my wife Marion.”

Geoff added: “It is so important to keep friends and when Jan came over to England that’s exactly what he needed and that’s what he got in me.

“He was very pleased that the club had used his money to sponsor the match and it is great because it helps to reinforce the British and English relationship.

“I will sponsor another three matches this year and will keep watching because Garstang lost their first eight matches when I wasn’t there and have won every one since I have watched, so maybe I’m their lucky mascot.”